Earlier today I
cleaned out the kitchen cupboard and discarded all the
stuff I wasn’t sure about anymore. It was comforting
work for a cold mid-winter day in New England.
Long hidden behind some cans of
tomatoes, I found some half-used bags of nuts that I
decided to donate to the front yard wildlife fund.
nuts showed up clearly upon the freshly fallen snow.
Almost immediately the blue jays sounded the call, and
they along with resident squirrels were soon working the
now dotted field of white.
I stayed on the front porch for a
while watching the squirrels gather up the nuts. There
was one nearby who was facing me, sitting up with his
furry white belly, munching away.
I was impressed that this little
guy was able to gather up a lot of nuts and store them
in his cheeks until they were bulging.
Soon after, he
ran up a Norway maple and settled into his nest, where
his cargo of old nuts would provide for another wintry
day less fortunate than this one.
breathing the crisp air, it struck me with irony… that a
difficult week of caregiving had led me to employ the
very same method as my little gray friend.
days I had steadily absorbed offensive remarks by those
in my care who, despite my best efforts, remained
uncooperative, insulting, and controlling.
And, with my
own reactions contained, it was my job to respond with
empathy and care.
I believe I did this well…but my
cheeks got so full - they still hurt a little.
Arthur N. Gottlieb, MSW, CSA is a
social worker in Connecticut working with seniors and
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